Attorney David White was recognized for his contributions to Boston’s cycling community at last night’s 6th Annual Boston Bike Update, which was held in the historic Faneuil Hall in Boston.
White, an attorney at Breakstone, White & Gluck, received the Volunteer of the Year award from Boston Bikes, the city office which oversees the growth of safety infrastructure, the Hubway bike share facilities, and programs for youth and low-income residents. White was honored alongside Bikes Not Bombs of Jamaica Plain, which received the Organization of the Year award. Jon Ramos was named Rookie Advocate of the Year and Vineet Gupta was Unsung Hero of the Year.
Photo credit: LivableStreets/www.livablestreets.info. Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck and Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes, during the 6th Annual Boston Bike Update at Faneuil Hall.
Jenny Duquette, Community Cycling Program Manager, introduced White:
“Our Volunteer of the Year is a former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association and a trial lawyer at Breakstone, White, & Gluck, which donated 160 helmets to Roll It Forward in 2013.”
“Like any superstar volunteer, he wanted to have an impact, so last year he volunteered at several bike giveaways as our helmet station guru – getting the kids excited about their new helmets, while making sure they got a helmet that actually fit! This year, his firm is donating helmets, locks, and light sets.”
Boston Bikes and Roll It Forward
Roll It Forward collects, repairs and distributes bikes to low-income Boston residents who might not otherwise have access to one. The program’s goal is to promote a healthier lifestyle with increased physical activity and fewer trips by car. As of January 2014, the program had distributed 2,728 bicycles. It plans to donate 850 more in 2014. In one very busy two-year period, the city’s youth cycling program gave safety classes to over 7,770 youth.
Former Mayor Thomas Menino established Boston Bikes in 2007 by hiring transportation planner and former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman. At that time, Boston only had 60 yards of bike lanes and was frequently cited as the worst city in the country for cyclists.
Today, the city has 60 miles of bike lanes. Boston Bikes is working to expand the network by adding a variety of new bike lanes, including new cycletracks, which will put a barrier between bike lanes and cars. The Hubway program, which launched in July 2011, continues to grow with more bike stations in Boston as well as Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. And the program strongly encourages use of helmets, by asking riders to agree to wear helmets in the Hubway contracts, partnering with businesses to offer subsidized helmets and opening the first-in-the-nation helmet vending machine in Back Bay.
Watch the Boston Bike Update.
Read more about Boston Bikes.
If you were in Boston last week, there is a good chance you saw a few cyclists. It was Bay State Bike Week and cyclists came out strong for events and group rides.
While many cyclists were wearing helmets, a new report says not all are. According to the City of Boston Cyclist Safety Report, from 2009 to 2012, cyclists were wearing helmets in less than 50 percent of incidents responded to by Boston Emergency Medical Services (Boston EMS).
Women wore helmets in 60 percent of incidents while men wore them in 43 percent.
Overall, the city reports 72 percent of cyclists citywide are wearing helmets.
Cyclists who wear bike helmets reduce their risk of head injury in a cycling accident by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The city’s report shows bike accidents in Boston have increased from 2010 to 2012. The Boston Police Department reports a 2 percent increase while Boston EMS reports 9 percent. Nine cyclists died in accidents, including five in 2012. Ridership has also increased over this time as the city expanded infrastructure and launched the Hubway bike share program, making hundreds of new bikes available for short-term rentals.
Boston Bikes (the office which manages the city’s bike programs) reported a 16-28 percent increase in bike trips over that period. In the city’s report, Mayor Thomas Menino has pledged to decrease the cyclist crash injury rate by 50 percent by 2020.
Bike Helmets in Boston
In Massachusetts, cyclists who are 16 years of age or younger must wear helmets while riding bicycles, under M.G.L. c.85 Section 11B. The helmet must be secured to the cyclist’s head with straps and meet standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But they are important for cyclists of all ages. The Boston cyclist safety report, which was produced by a number of city offices, has a long-term goal of passing a law requiring cyclists of all ages to wear helmets in Boston.
The city has tried to make discount helmets available to riders, launched a $40,000 “Wear a Helmet” advertising campaign promoting helmet usage and plans to install helmet vending machines at Hubway bike share stations. It also stresses helmet usage through its community programming.
In addition, Hubway riders agree to wear helmets as part of their rental agreement. But a study last year revealed many riders are not holding up their end of the deal. In the study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported 80 percent of bike-share users in Boston and Washington D.C. were not wearing bike helmets. By contrast, riders who owned their own bike wore their helmets about half the time.
The study’s author wrote that head injury accounts for about one third of all bicycle injuries and about three-quarters of all bicycle-related deaths.
Bike Helmet Law for Boston?
Boston was one of the first cities in the country to offer bike sharing. It would be leading the way again if it passed a law requiring cyclists of all ages to wear helmets. Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and 21 other states require cyclists under 16 to wear helmets, but there are no states which mandate use by adults, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There are other cities and towns with laws or ordinances requiring helmets be worn by cyclists of all ages, including Dallas, Texas and Sykesville, Maryland. There is a bill proposed in the Legislature to make Maryland the first state to require cyclists of all ages to wear helmets.
In Washington State, more than two dozen communities have laws or ordinances requiring helmets to be worn by all ages, but there is no statewide law.